If you’ve ever had a superstar working for you, you’re probably used to leaving him or her behind in the office when you go home – if you’re the CEO of a startup you don’t go home that early – and finding him or her in the office when you arrive. If it’s a him, the stubble’s a giveaway; women cover up a little better. A superstar prefers to work in at least twenty-four if not forty-eight or even seventy-two hour spurts.
Again, it’s the interfaces: it’s very expensive to put something down, go home, sleep, wake-up, and then recover all the loose ends. The first half of writing a program creates almost all loose ends; the second half is tying them back up. Like surgery. If a programmer has the skill and physical stamina for marathon gulps of creativity, then there are many fewer times when the non-productive work of putting stuff away neatly (mentally) and picking it up again has to happen. For similar reasons, one-person debugging is best done when you can crawl inside the code and stay there until you’re done.
Now, unfortunately, this kind of endurance is a young person’s game.